Shootout in southwest Pakistan kills four security forces, 1 militant, officials say

Militants attacked a security post in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, triggering a shootout that left three police officers a paramilitary soldier and one militant dead on Sunday, officials said.

Local police chief Abdul Salam Baloch said one of the militants was also killed while the others managed to escape to the mountainous terrain in the Shirani district, bordering North Waziristan where they have multiple hideouts.

Baloch said the attackers used hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on the joint security post of police and paramilitary forces.

Bilal Shabbir, a top administrative officer in Shirani district, said two militants and one paramilitary trooper were wounded in the shootout that lasted for about two hours. He said the attackers managed to escape with their wounded accomplices. He added that security forces launched a search operation in the area and surrounding mountains to trace and eliminate the perpetrators.

Head of the provincial government, Abdul Quddoos Bizenjo, condemned the attack and expressed grief over the loss of the four security men.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but militants from the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, known as the Pakistani Taliban or TTP, operate in the area and have been involved in past attacks on security forces in recent months.

TTP is a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in the neighboring country in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban, which has stepped up attacks on police and troops in recent months after unitarily ending a ceasefire with the government.

Pakistan’s military has carried out major operations in recent years in the tribal belt along the Afghan border, which has served as a safe haven for local and foreign militants for decades. However, militants still carry out attacks in the region.

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